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TRAFICANT CASE Board annuls right to vote



Published: Fri, August 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The former congressman has been a registered voter in Mahoning County since 1968.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- James A. Traficant Jr., who is fighting to keep his congressional candidacy alive, will have the dubious distinction of not being allowed to vote for himself, or anyone else for that matter.

The Mahoning County Board of Elections unanimously voted Thursday to take away Traficant's right to vote.

The reason is simple: Traficant, the former nine-term congressman, is now a federally convicted felon, and under state law, he is not permitted to vote unless his conviction is overturned or annulled.

Traficant has been a registered voter in Mahoning County since 1968, when he was 27, according to elections board records.

Typically, the board of elections receives monthly reports from the Ohio Secretary of State's office listing federally convicted felons, and then takes them off its voter registration list, said Mark Munroe, board of elections chairman.

It's not a secret in the Mahoning Valley, however, that Traficant is a convicted felon, so the board felt there was no need to wait and see the former congressman's name on the monthly state report, Munroe said.

Won't affect candidacy

But just because Traficant can no longer vote doesn't mean it will affect his candidacy as an independent congressional candidate in the November general election, Munroe said.

"He is no longer an elector," he said. "But from what we've seen and heard, it does not affect his status as a candidate. He'll be able to run for office, but will be in the strange circumstance of not being permitted to vote for himself."

Traficant's candidacy is being explored by Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins at the request of that county's board of elections. Watkins expects to have a legal opinion by the end of the month.

The status of Traficant's candidacy is in question because he is serving an eight-year federal prison sentence in a Pennsylvania facility. Ohio law states congressional candidates must be residents of the state.

But the Ohio Secretary of State's Office and elections experts say Traficant in all likelihood will be permitted to stay on the ballot because he considers his Poland home, and not his out-of-state federal prison, as his home.

skolnick@vindy.com




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